1. ITV Report

Brutal violence against dissenters in Zimbabwe exposed

Video report by ITV News Africa Correspondent John Ray

As protests against the rule of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe grow, ITV News has witnessed first hand the brutal methods used to crack down on dissenters.

ITV News spoke to one man who claimed he was beaten, threatened with AK-47s and attached to electric shockers after being snatched by government forces.

Silvanos Mudzvova is one of many Zimbabweans protesting against the rule of long-term President Mugabe.

They want electoral reform and fear a growing economic crisis in the country.

But 92-year-old Mugabe, who blames the West for his country's economic state, appears to have responded to their fears with brute force.

Robert Mugabe has been in charge of Zimbabwe for 36 years Credit: Reuters

While in Zimbabwe, ITV News Africa Correspondent John Ray witnessed years of pent-up anger spilling over into protests - the greatest challenge Mugabe has faced in a decade.

Currently, Zimbabwe has an unemployment rate of 90% nationwide.

Meanwhile, a severe regional drought has compounded a crippling cash shortage, causing huge queues at the bank.

But Mugabe has deemed protesters "dangerous enemies of the state", forcing many of them into hiding.

Activists are demanding electoral reform. Credit: ITV News

Mr Mudzvova, who spoke to ITV News from a hospital in Harare, claimed he experienced government violence and intimidation first-hand.

"They pointed two guns to me. Two AK-47 guns", Mr Mudzvova told ITV News.

"And without me saying anything I surrendered with my hands in the air.

"And then they did actually put me in a sack and then took me out of the house.

"Then we reached the destination and they just took me outside of the car, throw me on the ground and then they started putting electrical shockers on my feet."

Mr Mudzvone was then subjected to beatings, leaving him in fear of his life.

He added: "It's one of those things where I actually started praying the minute they took me. I thought that was the last time I was going to be seen by people."

Queues at banks in Zimbabwe, where money is running out. Credit: ITV News

Queues at the country's banks are a visual reminder that Zimbabwe is slowly running out of money.

The government's solution has been to print bank notes - the first occasion since they abandoned their own currency amid ruinous hyperinflation.

In a speech at the UN on Wednesday, Mugabe blamed the country's economic plight on "heinous" sanctions imposed by the "demonic and neo-imperialist" West.

Mugabe described Zimbabwe as the "innocent victim of spiteful sanctions" initiated by the US and other Western powers.

People fear the money will once again become worthless Credit: ITV News

At its peak, 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollars bought merely a weekly bus pass. People were forced to carry huge wads of the cash around.

The money became worthless when the shops ran out of goods.

Now many Zimbabweans fear this situation could soon return. Meanwhile, the protests continue.

ITV News Africa Correspondent John Ray assesses the economic situation in Zimbabwe